top of page

Sexual Education and Its Importance

What I wish I was taught at school and how things have changed since then.


A person pointing to a diagram involved in sex education

Sexuality is an important topic of discussion now more than ever. Society is more and more willing to discuss the ideas around one's sexual orientation, sexual health and gender identity. This, at least to me, is a rather different time than when I was younger and in school. We were certainly on our way to having more open discussions around these essential subjects but not to the extent we are today. Having learned more about them on my own volition and curiosity, I do sometimes feel that these things could have been taught to me when I was younger so that I could have a greater understanding of them going into the adult world. Talking more with my friends who are a similar age to myself (early twenties) we found there were some things we agreed could have been expanded on during our time at school. Learning more about the vast spectrum of sexuality and gender identity, practising safe sex and looking out for signs of abuse in a relationship were the main aspects we felt could have been taught sooner. Stemming from this, I have dug further into how sexual education is taught now and the development of this essential area of learning.


Sexuality is an important topic of discussion now more than ever. Society is more and more willing to discuss the ideas around one's sexual orientation, sexual health and gender identity. This, at least to me, is a rather different time than when I was younger and in school. We were certainly on our way to having more open discussions around these essential subjects but not to the extent we are today. Having learned more about them on my own volition and curiosity, I do sometimes feel that these things could have been taught to me when I was younger so that I could have a greater understanding of them going into the adult world. Talking more with my friends who are a similar age to myself (early twenties) we found there were some things we agreed could have been expanded on during our time at school. Learning more about the vast spectrum of sexuality and gender identity, practising safe sex and looking out for signs of abuse in a relationship were the main aspects we felt could have been taught sooner. Stemming from this, I have dug further into how sexual education is taught now and the development of this essential area of learning.


Thinking back to my sex education classes in school, I can only really remember basic sexual health practices and about consent (I’m sure most people around my age remember the Tea consent video). From memory, I don’t recall anything related to sexual orientation, gender identity and looking for signs of abuse. Even the sexual health section could have been explored further with contraception and who to speak to regarding your sexual health. I believe that these are important areas to discuss, especially for younger people where these things are not so apparent when you are this age and greater context would be much appreciated for their lives going forward.


How is sexuality taught today?


I have looked further into what current curriculum guidelines and priorities stated by educators today and have created a picture of what sexual education currently looks like in schools. The present priorities for teaching include the safeguarding and support of LGBTQ+ students online, discussion of gender identification and self-awareness, gender-based discrimination, supporting and protecting transgender pupils and their rights, learning about respectful relationships and sexual health. Should all of this be followed correctly then in my view, sexual education will have improved considerably from when I was at school. Helping LGBTQ+ students will prove a major assistance to their time figuring out who they are and their mental health in the long run. Respect within relationships also is a positive to take away from this with the hope that abusive relationships can be prevented in the future and if one does end up in such a relationship, that they can realise quickly.


Official government guidance surrounding, as they term, Relationships and Sexual Education or RSE, is to teach about how relationships function and what constitutes a healthy relationship and sexual experience. This is how RSE is laid out on the government website:


“The aim of RSE is to give young people the information they need to help them develop healthy, nurturing relationships of all kinds, not just intimate relationships….Effective RSE does not encourage early sexual experimentation. It should teach young people to understand human sexuality and to respect themselves and others”.


Two hands reaching to a rainbow symbolising pride


Schools have a duty of care to take care of their students and encourage them to take an enlightened view of respect for others as well as themselves. They are meant to be institutions where children can feel safe in learning more about the wilder world as well as finding out more about what they think about their own identity. John Rees from the National College spoke about this fact in terms of what a school’s legal duties are when educating on sexuality. A school must legally have these systems of study in place, ensure that all educational needs of the students are met and help those pupils that may be experiencing stress related to their questioning of their gender. He elaborates more on the schools function in the following:


“For many young people, schools are the one safe space in their life, a safe harbour of predictable outcomes where no means no and boundaries protect and enable children and young people to feel physically and emotionally safe”.

The importance of proper education on sexuality, identity and safe practices are paramount to the wellbeing of our youth. I personally felt that more could have been done to prepare myself and others of my learning generation about what experiences are in store and what to do if any of these issues arise in our lives. It does give some comfort that at least on the surface, schools are dedicated to teaching more about these critical subjects. Official posts from organisations and sites like UNESCO, the Guttmacher Institute and Safe Schools Alliance UK testify to the request for more teaching improvements to be made to our sex education. When sexuality and LGBTQ+ education is under threat in places such as Florida with the implementation of their “Don’t Say Gay” law, it is important now more than ever to make sure our youth receives a well-rounded education on all matters related to sexuality.


Comentarios


bottom of page